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Full text of "Verdict On India"

108                                    VERDICT  OX  INDIA
-city are a number of municipal buildings which strongly resembl<r
-a group of neolithic monsters having a fight. They are not only
monstrous but mongrel to the point of obscenity ; in a single facade
you can find Gothic, Saracenic, Tudor. Hindu, late rococo and a
dash of Louis Seize. Sir Edwin Arnold, contemplating this grue-
>ome display, observed that they 'were 'all very remarkable
structures' upon which he had looked "with admiring eyes.' And
that great journalist G. W. Stecvens thought Bombay had 'the
richest and stateliest building* in India, challenging comparison
with almost any city in the world/ He added that "the Briton
feels that he is a greater man for his first sighc of Bombay.5
It made me feel that the sooner the British quit India, the better.
However, this was hardly a fair way of looking at it. A nation
gets the architecture it deserves. The vast majority of Bombay's
inhabitants are Indians. It is they who run the municipality, with
practically no outside interference; it is they who provide the
capital necessary to build these fiendish things, whether they are
private residences or business houses. Xobody—British or other-
wise—dictates to an Indian millionaire when h<? puts up a block
of flats that is an affront to God and man.
It is what the Indians like. No.. .that is wrong. They neither
like nor dislike. They are indifferent. And it seems to be im-
possible to shake them out of their indifference.
I once tried to do so at a mass meeting at the Taj Mahal Hotel.
I stood up before an audience which included the majority of
Bombay's intelligentsia and insulted their city in the most un-
compromising terms for nearly twenty minutes. The abuse was
laid on with u trowel To make it more stinging, it was extremely
personal. I mentioned name after name, suggesting that the
residence of one famous millionaire resembled a "malformed
wedding cake' and that the house of another was *a gilded mouse
trap/ Any self-respecting horse, I hinted, would refuse to pass
these places, but would prefer to rush violently into the sea. I
even advocated sabotage, claiming that any member of the
audience who chose to blow up these things would be conferring
a real benefit on suffering humanity.
These remarks,  one would have thought,  were  reasonably
succinct.   It would be difficult to interpret them as compliments ;